A baby's cries broke through breakfast at a northeast Houston fire station on Monday, leading firefighters to a stroller with an abandoned little boy. The child was discovered just after 10 a.m. at Houston Fire Department Station 39 at 5810 Pickfair near Kelley. He was found alone inside the garage where fire trucks are parked.
"The firefighters told me that he was very pleasant, clean, well-dressed and well-nourished," said Capt. Ruy Lozano, HFD's public information officer. "He was smiling with them and did not appear to be in any kind of discomfort."
An ambulance transported the child to LBJ General Hospital, a mile away.
By size and development, the 20-pound boy is about 9 or 10 months old, medical personnel estimated.
The child appears to be Hispanic and has black, straight hair framing his face with pronounced bangs.
He has a round, quarter-size Mongolian spot -- a birthmark -- on his upper back.
"He's a big baby. He's holding his own bottle," Child Protective Services spokeswoman Estella Olguin said. "He's not crawling yet, but he is scooting and able to sit up and pull himself up on things."
The "happy, playful baby" hasn't cut teeth, Olguin added.
Not a 'Baby Moses'
This child's abandonment doesn't qualify as a "Baby Moses" surrender for at least two reasons: He's too old and he wasn't released to an individual.
The state's "Baby Moses" law allows parents to avoid prosecution if they hand over unharmed infants up to 60 days old to personnel at hospitals, fire stations, EMS locations or other designated Safe Havens where immediate medical attention is available. Texas first enacted the law in 1999.
The boy will remain in the hospital overnight. CPS officials are scheduled for an emergency custody hearing on Tuesday.
Olguin said the case will be regarded as an abandonment by CPS and law enforcement.
"By law, we are required to find the parents and look for family members for placement of the child," she said. "If you've got a 9-to-10-month-old baby, people are aware of his existence."
There are few clues about the child's origin besides his clothing -- a red onesie emblazoned with "Made in the USA" -- and the gray stroller in which he was found.
Follow the law
There are legal ways to surrender a child older than 2 months.
Parents in crisis should call CPS at 800-252-5400 if they believe they can no longer care for a child. Private child-placing agencies, such as Catholic Charities, will accept minors for voluntary and temporary foster care, placement with relatives or adoption.
"Sometimes, families find themselves on hard times," Olguin said. "With CPS, sometimes we offer day care, parenting classes and other things, such as limited assistance with different costs, such as an electric bill. There are resources. There is help."
Lozano said the fire station didn't have security cameras that could have captured images of the person who left the baby on Monday.
And while a fire house is a Safe Haven and a likely place for a child to be discovered by responsible individuals, the boy was left alone for a period of time.
"You need to hand it to the fireman in his arms -- a person-to-person transfer," Lozano said.
Anyone with information about the identity of the child, his parents or other relatives is urged to contact law enforcement or CPS at 800-252-5400.
Written by Cindy George